PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Janelle”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. This week meet Janelle, a saxophone playing administrative assistant who might run my new favorite blog: Foodlebrities. Don’t ask, just go check it out… after you read about her love of spicy pickles below.

Name: Janelle

Age: 25

Occupation: Administrative Assistant and Saxophone Player (with a token blog mention)

Where in Midtown do you Work?: 41st & Madison Ave.

Favorite Kind of Food: I’m partial to anything that packs a lot of sodium so Udon, cheap Chinese buffets, Mexican, bento boxes, and anything with pickles or excess vinegar. And, of course, bacon!

Least Favorite Kind of Food: I’m not a fan of the licorice taste in green curries or fermented bean curd (Go Go Curry failed to convince me with a topping coupon). Other than that, I’ll eat it up!

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: The Braised Ma “Paul” Tofu w/ Chili Minced Pork or the Pork Belly w/ Chili Leeks from Szechuan Gourmet (39th b/w 5th and 6th), the Reuben from Homefront Deli (41st b/w Mad and Park), Rollies from Old Bridge Deli R.I.P. (Lex b/w 40th and 41st), Falafel from Olympic Pita (38th b/w 5th and 6th), Chaat from Indus Express (48th b/w 5th and 6th), double-cooked pork bento box lunch special for $4.25 from Café Zaiya (41st b/w 5th and Mad), and the shrimp ceviche from El Ricon Del Sabor (47th b/w 5th and 6th).

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? We all frequent Café Zaiya, Yagura and Chiyoda Sushi (all on 41st btw. Mad+5th), which I doubt could ever be eaten “too often.” I’m also a frequenter of the vegetable dumpling udon at Café Charlie (39th b/w 5th and Madison) and the sushi chef in our cafeteria on Wednesdays. My building also has a strange abundance of Café Metro and Food Exchange sacks, which I will never understand.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Khodiar Lunch Services (6th Ave. b/w 37th and 38th), Sukhadia (45th b/w 5th and 6th), 100% Halal & Healthy (55th and Park), El Rey Del Sabor Cart (60th and 3rd), Papa Perrone’s Pizza Truck (55th b/w Mad and Park), every street meat vendor from the Street Meat Challenge (thanks for filling my month of September with so many options!), Kati Roll (39th b/w 5th and 6th), Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart (46th b/w 5th and 6th), the Tamale Lady at the Mexian Embassy (39th b/w Park and Mad), 99 Cent Fresh Pizza (43rd b/w Lex and 3rd) and Menchenko Tei! A friend and I resolved to try a new ML spot every week, which has been going on for nearly a year to much success. Every ML Sandwich has been a treat!

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Based solely on my frequent trips to Café Zaiya for bento boxes, sushi, Curry Pan, and various dishes I can’t pronounce or identify the ingredients, I’d have to say Japan. I doubt the combination of pickled vegetables or curried anything would ever tire me…

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? I’d like to find the ultimate lunch that combines both spicy and pickled flavors. After having the good fortune to help with the McClure’s pickle stand at the Brooklyn Flea several weeks back, I’ve been craving the Hot & Spicy Pickle almost constantly and would like to find a meal equivalent that doesn’t kill me for lack of nutrition. Any suggestions?

Well, considering how much you love Szchuan Gourmet, have you tried their szechuan pickles? Exactly what you are looking for, although I guess it doesn’t qualify as a complete lunch. For that, maybe you should check out the shredded pork and Chinese pickle noodle soup at Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th). It was made pretty famous by a New York Times article (which still sits in the window today.) The pickle flavor is not super intense, and it isn’t super spicy either… but I have a feeling you’ll still enjoy it.  Though neither of these pickle recs will make you pucker like a McClure’s pickle…

Anybody else have a suggestion? Put it in the comments… and as always if you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


  • Funny website. Have you ever checked out Pork Chop Express? The website does a simular thing but more meat based, plus food reviews.

  • Get kimchi jjigae from your favorite K-town spot. It is a hot, spicy and generally awesome soup made with kimchi.

  • licorice taste in green curries? really? i’ve never noticed…. even in the green curry i had 2 nights ago.

  • Freak of the week

  • Gustad..methink she’s refering to Star-Anise.

  • My very dearest Janelle:

    It is almost impossibly endearing to see a young and vibrant woman such as yourself who is NOT obsessed with health, nutrition and weight loss. That looks to be a very hearty home-cooked meal you are about to tuck into in your photo. Is that a roast miniature dachshund on your plate?

    My wife (a medical doctor/renowned surgeon) whispered in my ear that you should wear your swimsuit UNDER not over your clothes. Just a bit of “girl talk,” you see. LOL.

    I second the recommendation of KIMCHI as something fiery/fermented/sour which would no doubt suit your demanding palate. We converted our home tandoor oven into a kimchi fermentation device after the tragic accident involving Mr. Wiggles. We firmly believe in the health benefits of a serving or two of that toothsome, fragrant cabbage each and every day.

    Chuck, PhD

  • No rusty trombone responses? Who made that meal? Every chef I worked with told me that if the garnish wasn’t edible, dont put it on the plate.

  • So uh… Can i offer you a pickle surprise ?

  • I’d like to slip her my spicy pickle!

  • I hate white people. You’re no exception.

  • Alex B – you are stupid.

  • Fermented bean curd?

    You mean those infamous fermented beans? Natto?

    I won’t lie, those are pretty damn nasty. I know that a lot of people say that they are really good for you, but ugh… Never again.

  • Janelle, If you enjoy korean Jigae, you might also enjoy Boribap , a rice dish with pickled radishes, veggies, red pepper paste and soybean paste. I think it fulfills your requirements of spicy, pickled and healthy all in one dish.


  • Thank you all for your suggestions. I plan on checking out Hing Won this week and will be upping my kimchi intake while trying the other suggestions.

    Any tips on where to get a good Jigae or Boribap?

    Also, this picture was taken at the Volstead free lunch last year, and if memory serves, it was a pomegranate braised hunk-o-pork with buttery potato layers. Needless to say, lovely.

  • Go to any store or market that sells middle eastern or south asian foodstuff…you will find lots of different pickled relishes and chutneys….you might like them alot.

  • Sorry Janelle, I forgot to mention a place, other people may have other and possibly better suggestions but I always stick with Wonjo on 32nd St. for Boribap, bibimbap, jigae and barbecue, good variety of banchan (including kimchi) that accompany every meal.

  • Some of the spicier Eastern North Carolina vinegar based bbq sauces might be what you’re looking for, also they do all sorts of hot pickled things down there.

    Also the crispy catfish salad at Wondee Siam or any of their salad like dishes, ask for them spicy and they have a great hot/vinegar kick.

  • “A pomegranate braised hunk-o-pork with buttery potato layers?”

    Describes me to a “T.”

  • I had my doubts about this blog until Cuba Pudding Jr. and Andrew W. Cake showed me the truth. Undeniable wordplay win!

    In the spicy pickled department, I’d highly recommending making your own Kool-Aid pickles, then pairing them with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Surely one of the tastiest experiments I’ve ever conducted.

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